Amazon's Kindle DX Not Cool For School, At Least At Princeton

The Kindle DX was released back in May and, at the time, Amazon was riding high on the the buzz from the Kindle 2's February debut -- long before much of Amazon's present e-reader competition came into view, or Amazon took a few nasty PR spills and found itself linked to George Orwell's "Big Brother."

With a 9.7-inch diagonal screen and a hefty $489 price tag, the Kindle DX wasn't expected to play in the broader consumer e-reader market. Rather, Amazon intended it for periodicals and, more importantly, textbooks, saying back in May it would be launching a pilot program for Kindle DX with five universities, among them Princeton.

The program, explained Amazon at the time, was to provide select students with a Kindle DX to experiment with textbook content delivery. But at Princeton, it seems things haven't gone quite according to plan.

Princeton's newspaper, The Daily Princetonian reported earlier this week that the 50 students who had received a Kindle DX for free to participate in the pilot program were "dissatisfied and uncomfortable" with their Kindle DX experiences.

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"I hate to sound like a Luddite," said one student to the paper, "but this technology is a poor excuse of an academic tool. It's clunky, slow and a real pain to operate."

The student went on to complain that using the Kindle DX prevented him from doing margin notes. That may represent another issue for Amazon and Kindle: how to make the Kindle DX's annotation capabilities more user-friendly.

It'll be interesting to see how Amazon adjusts future versions of the Kindle DX in response. If textbooks are supposedly its sweet spot, it'll need the endorsement of students and academic professionals to gain traction. Considering the market for large-size, textbook-geared e-reading devices is still comparatively small, Amazon needs to up its advantage by responding to complaints effectively.

For more on the e-reader landscape, check out's comparison of the Kindle with e-readers from Sony and Plastic Logic. For more on the Kindle DX itself, check out ChannelWeb's in-depth look at the DX's features and market potential.